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on the broadcast tonigh on the broadcast tonight, breaking silence for the first time since the tragedy in newtown. the nra speaks out. as momentum now grows across the country to do something about guns. held hostage. our own richard engel and his crew set free after being kidnapped for five days inside syria. tonight we'll hear from richard about what happened and how they made it out. is there a deal in sight on that so-called fiscal cliff? that may hinge on how both side define "rich." and making a difference. it started as a simple idea, just being kind. tonight ann curry reports on the overwhelming response now being felt around the world. overwhelming response now being felt around the world. "nightly news" begins now.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television 6 captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. four days now since the tragedy that altered our entire country. the gun lobby has spoken its first words on the subject. the national rifle association, the nra, which is routinely referred to as the most powerful grassroots lobbying organization in this country, has been silent. they said today out of respect for the victims. ever since a troubled young man with four firearms took 28 lives, including his own, 20 of them little children at an elementary school in newtown, connecticut. along with mental health, the gun control debate has come roar into the american conversation. and in addition to their statement tonight, the nras promising to say more in a news conference at the end of the week. it's all where we begin tonight with nbc's tom costello in washington. tom, good evening.
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>> reporter: hi, brian. the white house today said president obama supports senator feinstein's proposed bill that would ban assault weapons and high capacity ammo clips. tonight gun control advocates think they have the momentum, but nra is now weighing in. four days after the newtown massacre, the nra today broke its silence in a statement saying it's made up of 4 million moms and dads, sons and daughters who are shocked, saddened and heart broken by the murders in newtown. it says it's prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again. talk of new gun regulations has got gun store cash registers ringing in alabama. >> people who feel insecure about their surroundings and about the future are purchasing weapons. >> reporter: in oklahoma. >> wanting to take care of themselves. taking care of their own safety, the safety of their families. >> reporter: at a gun range in virginia, tim was shooting a mini 14. he opposes an assault weapons ban. >> why should i be punished when i like to hunt, shoot
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recreational, bring my family to the range and so forth. >> reporter: today the investment firm with a controlling stake in the company that makes the bushmaster rifle says it's selling the company as a watershed event. dick's sporting goods also said it will suspend selling military-style weapons. while in washington. >> my little brother derek was rid upped with bullets on september 8, 2001 in sacramento, california. >> reporter: the families of gun violence victims were on capitol hill. >> our daughter jessica was killed in aurora on july 20th of this year. >> reporter: demanding new gun regulations. calling the massacre a tipping point, the mayors of the nation's biggest cities today issued an open letter calling on congress and the president to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. and to strengthen the national background check system, eliminating gun show loopholes. the nation's largest police union also came out in support of a new assault weapons ban. but while some influential
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democrats are speaking out in support of a gun law, today the first signs of opposition from republicans. >> we did have an assault weapons ban for ten years. the crime rate was going down before it. the crime rate when it was lifted continued to go down. >> reporter: the nra is promising a news conference on friday. meanwhile in michigan, the republican governor today vetoed a bill that would have allowed concealed weapons at churches and at schools. brian? >> tom costello our d.c. news room. meanwhile in newtown, four days now after this tragedy at the elementary school, this was the day the rest of the town schools reopened. and kids returned to class, even as others were being laid to rest. nbc's anne thompson remains in newtown for us tonight. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. you know the biggest difference at school today was police presence. at holly elementary school, officers stopped each and every car and spoke to the parents and students inside.
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and at each school there was a team of counsellors helping students deal with their grief and fear. the reopening of newtown schools an act of faith and resolve. >> whether you wait a day a month or whatever. there's no -- there's no rule book. >> reporter: determination quickly tested as a threat to one elementary school forced it into lockdown before students even arrived. the sight of the massacre at sandy hook elementary school remained closed. moving vans carrying furniture and equipment left under a police escort, headed for the school's new building in neighboring monroe. at newtown's catholic church, two funerals today. james mattioli, the first grader who loved to sing loudly, a mini version of his dad. his favorite classes were math and recess. 6-year-old jessica rekos loved learning about orcas, writing
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and being a big sister to her brothers travis and shane. on this day of funerals we heard how gene rosen's antique house was a refuge for six first graders friday morning. >> right there by the post lantern. they were just sitting >> reporter: four girls and two boys crying and out of breath, having come from the school 100 yards away. >> what do you say to them? i said it's okay it's okay. come on with me. come on up. >> reporter: inside the retired psychologist gave them toys. and the children started talking. >> the two boys just start crying and saying, "we can't go back to school. we can't go back to school. mrs. soto, our teacher, we don't have a teacher. we can't go back to school. mrs. soto is dead." >> reporter: steve smith's granddaughter was in vickie soto's class and went to rosen's house. his heroes are the teachers. >> whatever actions they took that diverted attention i'm sure. they're the ones that are
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responsible for her being here with us today. >> reporter: now tonight there is still no word on when the relocad sandy hook elementary school will reopen, in part because there is still so much more mourning to do. tomorrow three wakes and four funerals are scheduled. brian? >> unbelievable. anne thompson in newtown, connecticut tonight. thanks. what happened there at sandy hook elementary school in newtown is sadly so similar to what happened in a small town a long way away from here in scotland, almost 17 years ago. the people there more than most know what newtown is going through and what may lie ahead for them. tons nbc's keir simmons reports from the town of dunblane. >> reporter: in dunblane tonight they are lighting candles for the children of newtown. and for their own. 16 children, ages 5 and 6, and their elementary school teacher killed in 1996 by a
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heavily-armed gunman who then killed himself. >> the security and innocence of a scottish village was shattered in the most horrifying fashion. >> reporter: the local priest found himself burying children he had baptized. >> and then there's this awful void. what happens now? >> reporter: dunblane, like newtown, is a tight-knit community. everybody knows each other here. and even after almost 17 years, many are reticent to talk about what happened. it is still that painful. mick nawes lost his daughter sophie. >> we found that we could say things in front of the other families that we just couldn't say even to our closest friends, even to our closest relatives. >> reporter: steve bernie runs a community center started with donations that poured in after the shooting. his son was injured that day. >> all we could do with our kids was to just be open and answer the questions as honestly and as
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straightforwardly as you can. >> reporter: people here pulled together. and the country responded, strengthening already tough gun laws. >> there was a strong will amongst the population to do it. and there were enough politicians who wanted to do something. >> reporter: dunblane learned that it could survive even this. >> there will be a future. and there is hope. >> reporter: and the condolences to the people of newtown, one unmistakable message. we are with you. keir simmons, nbc news, dunblane, scotland. back in the news so-called fiscal cliff 14 days away now. we keep hearing there's been movement between democrats and republicans, largely because the president seems to be budging on the question of who is rich, who will pay higher taxes. chuck todd at the white house for us tonight with more on that. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. two steps forward, one step back. that's about the best way to describe the current talks
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between the white house and house republicans. the president and speaker boehner have never been closer to a deal. thanks to major concessions in the last 48 hours. and with the nation still mourning the tragedy in connecticut, both sides admit the tone of the negotiations has changed. >> an event like that, as tragic as it is, brings us a little closer together. >> it's not a time to put americans through more stress. >> reporter: backing away from long-standing pledge to not raise any tax rates, boehner is now offering a deal that would raise rates on americans making more than $1 million. president obama's counter offer raises rates on incomes over $400,000. a big change from his campaign pledge for higher taxes on those making more than $250,000. another big concession, the president has offered lower costs of living adjustments for social security, a major savings for the federal government. today on capitol hill, progressive groups protested
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that idea. meanwhile, some conservatives don't like boehner's concession on tax rates. >> once you cross that line and say like some people it's okay for some people's taxes to down, i think it's a mistake for the republican party. >> reporter: meanwhile boehner said he is moving ahead with what he called plan b should the white house talks fall apart. >> having a back up plan to make sure that as few american taxpayers are affected by this increase as possible. >> reporter: boehner's plan b, simply raising rates on incomes over $1 million while postponing a larger debate on mandatory spending cuts was dismissed out of hand by democrats, even by one who just last year championed the same concept. >> it's a tactic, but is not a serious proposal. >> reporter: aides close to the talks on both sides of pennsylvania avenue, brian, say they are this close to a deal that can come together maybe within the next few hours or 24 hours, but we're also this close to the whole thing falling apart. that's how precarious things are
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right now. >> and so it goes in washington. chuck todd from the white house lawn tonight, chuck, thanks. still ahead for us, our own richard engel and his crew released from days of captivity now safe. tonight they open up about their ordeal inside syria. and later, the idea that caught on like wildfire for so many around the world who just wanted to do something kind after so much sadness in newtown. after so much sadness i newtown. [ male announcer ] with free package pickup from the u.s. postal service the holidays are easy. visit pay, print, and have it picked up for free before december 20h for delivery in time for the holidays. you can even give us special instructions on where to find it. free package pickup. from the u.s. postal service. because it's nice to have an extra pair of hands around for the holidays. get coricidin hbp. the number one pharmacist recommended cold brand
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now to what we haven't been able to share with you over these past five very tense days. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel and our crew covering the war in syria disappeared off the radar late last week when his report from alepo aired on tape on this broadcast last thursday night, he had already been grabbed and we didn't know it. suffice to say that set off days of frantic efforts to secure their release. fortunately, just before we went on the air last night, we heard richard's voice for the first time in days. finally after a harrowing drive across the border, they gained their freedom. and now the three of them, richard engel, producer ghazghazi l ghazi balkis and veteran cameraman john koistra appeared on" today" even then did we learn how they had been treated. >> we were driving in syria, about five days ago, in what we thought was a rebel-controlled
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area. we were with some of the rebels. as we were moving down the road a group of gunmen literally jumped out of trees and bushes on the side of the road. probably 15 gunmen, wearing ski masks, heavily armed. they dragged us out of the car. they had a container truck positioned waiting by the side of the road. they put us into that container truck. we were with some gunmen, some rebels who were escorting us. they executed one of them on the spot. then they took us to a series of safe houses and interrogation places. and they kept us blindfolded, bound. we weren't physically beaten or tortured. it was a lot of psychological torture. threats of being killed. they made us choose which one of us would be shot first. and when we refused there were mock shootings. it can be very traumatic experience. and at the end of this, we were being moved to yet another
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location in the around 11:00 last night local time. and as we were moving along the road, the kidnappers came across a rebel checkpoint, something they hadn't expected. so we were in the back of what you would think of as a minivan. as we were driving along the road, the kidnappers saw this checkpoint, started a gun fight with it. two of the kidnappers were killed. we climbed out of the vehicle and the rebels took us. we spent the night with them. we didn't get much sleep. we're very happy to be here. we're in good health. we're okay. everyone was great. nbc was fantastic in informing our families and keeping people up-to-date, keeping the story quiet. but while we're obviously very happy, there are many people who are still not at liberty to do this kind of thing. they're still hostages. there are still people who don't have their freedom inside syria. >> i know you are all very
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experienced. but i wonder how you are feeling this morning, how you're doing and how you're processing what must have been an absolutely terrifying experience. >> i've worked with those guys for a long time in harsh environments. and we get each other very well. we work with each other very well. i'm glad to be captured with them. we keep each other's spirits up. >> moving was the hardest part. it was disconcerting to move blindfolded from house to house. >> you think they're going to taking you outside -- >> you don't know. >> we weren't allowed to speak. but if you sort of look kind of peek underneath the blindfold you can see if maybe there's a guard in the room or not. and we tried to joke a little bit back and forth and keep our spirits up. >> will richard, john and ghazi, we are profoundly grateful to see you this morning. i think we can just take a moment and say how beloved you are by this organization and how thankful we are that you're here with us. >> savannah spoke for all of us there. we are all so happy to know
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they're safe. these are our friends and coworkers, all combat zone veterans. we've all worked together in some tough places. ghazi, richard, john. and we should explain the reason secrecy was important here, the reason we couldn't share the fact that this was going on until it was resolved was to deprive their captors of the knowledge of the value of the prisoners they had. secrecy was in this case a life and death matter. and by the way, richard believes their captors were a pro-assad, pro-syrian government militia. so we'll take a break. when we come back, the gathering storm that could make a mark on holiday travel in this country. but with advair, i'm breathing better. so now i can be in the scene. advair is clinically proven to help significantly improve lung function. unlike most copd medications, advair contains both an anti-inflammatory and a long-acting bronchodilator
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difference report. this one started with ann curry. this weekend after so much sadness she shared a thought via social media. imagine if everybody committed to an act of kindness as a way of honoring the 20 children and six teachers whose lives were lost in newtown, connecticut. what she wrote on twitter took off. tonight ann reports on the overwhelming response that has made a difference of its own. >> reporter: sparked by a simple idea the twitter #26acts and #20-acts are now igniting a a movement of kindness. people doing deeds big and small to honor the lives of the victims in newtown. >> the entire country is overwhelmed by great sadness. there's many of us who wish we could do more. >> reporter: in california, kelly took her 11-year-old son nicholas shopping for toys for less fortunate kids. buying one in memory of each child who died. she's among tens of thousands of americans who are tweeting "i'm
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in" acts of kindness ranging from buying a stranger coffee to leaving gift cards on people's windshields anonymously, to making it a point to reach out to lonely classmates in schools. in chicago, jake riley is working on a second act of kindness in two days. >> nice to meet you. >> reporter: stopping on his way home from work to donate a care package he made for the homeless. >> i thought that was a really good way to push back against the hate, with kindness. >> oh, check this one out. >> reporter: in atlanta cindy pitts and nina sonsini are trying to collect enough teddy bear force alled children in sandy hook elementary school. >> it has just been accumulating. the support from all over the community. friends from everywhere. >> reporter: at success tech academy in cleveland, teachers put up a wall of kindness. students have been adding to it so fast it's almost full. >> we were able to reach our 26 acts within the first day the wall was posted. >> reporter: the movement is now spreading overseas. russia, south africa and
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finland. people embracing the idea that the spirit of those lost in sandy hook elementary school endaughters and that some good can come out of something even this bad. ann curry, nbc news. new york. >> and that is our broadcast on a tuesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night.

NBC Nightly News
NBC December 18, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

News/Business. (2012) New. (HD) (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 12, Syria 5, Boehner 5, Coricidin Hbp 4, Advair 4, Brian 3, Washington 3, Nbc 3, Connecticut 3, Newtown 3, Campbell 2, Richard Engel 2, Keir Simmons 2, Mrs. Soto 2, John 2, Tom Costello 2, Nexium 2, Duracell 2, Engel 2, Anne Thompson 2
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